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One of the most memorable scenes from any movie is Indiana Jones in his first movie hurtling out of the temple as it collapses all around him, running for his life. That scene is not unique to Mr. Jones, however, as Miss Croft and others have often found themselves in similar circumstances – as evidenced in many TV shows and B movies. When I heard that the theme of Krumble! (TenkiGames, 2006 – Piero Cioni) was that of getting out of a temple before it collapsed, I was reminded of the many times I had watched heroes do the same; and as cheesy as it might be, I like those scenes! The artwork looked great, and the theme sounded fun; so I dove right in.
And then I played again, and again; because it was simply just a very fun game. Yes, there are elements of a “take that” game, and it’s possible for a character to die; but the game also has some really great things going for it. It has a terrific theme, a short playing time, fast gameplay, terrific components, and a way for a player who has died to annoy other players and even win! But of all of these, the thing that most sold me on the game was the theme – I actually felt the pressure as my character ran ahead of the falling rocks.
Each player takes a character card and token of their choice (the characters have generic names but are most definitely parodies of famous explorers, such as Indiana Jones). Each character card has three sides with a symbol on it (red square – strength, yellow triangles – knowledge, and blue circles – agility). Players take six wooden blocks of each color/shape and place them adjacent to the matching side of the character card. A pile of temple tiles is shuffled, and a random temple is formed of three rows of tiles, placed in a checkered format. Each temple tile has two entrances and two exits, and tiles must always be placed so that each entrance is paired with an exit. Each player is given an “exit” tile and then four more random tiles from the shuffle pile of tiles that contains Temple and Obstacle Tiles. Four Krumble counters are placed on the table as well as twelve obstacle counters. A car tile is placed next to an idol board (with two idol figures placed on each half of it as well as a counter of each skill type.) Players take turns placing their figures in the first row of tiles, and one player is chosen to go first, with the last player receiving one of the “Krumble” counters.
On a player’s turn, they must either take a “Movement” turn, or a “Rest” turn. When moving, a player must draw the top temple tile and add it to their hand. They must then legally play one of their temple tiles (or obstacle tiles) on the table. Legal temple tiles must have at least one entrance connected to an exit from another tile. The player then moves their explorer one space, by going through one of the two exits on their tile to the adjoining tile. Each exit has a “price” that must be paid, from one to three tokens in one of the three types. For example, to go out one door on a tile might cause a player to pay one red square, while the other door costs three blue circles. If a player cannot pay the amount to move, then they cannot use that door.
Obstacle tiles are played either directly on a tile where one or more opponents reside, or attached to an exit. These traps, when played on an opponent(s), cause that opponent to roll a six-sided die, which must be lower then the number of symbols (up to three) shown on the tile. If they fail, they must immediately discard that many counters. A trap played on a door simply adds to the exit cost of that door, but the trap counter is removed after one explorer “pays” for it.
When “resting”, a player draws two tiles. They then place one of the tiles down legally, whether obstacle or room; and then discard a tile. The player adds skill counters to their card equal to those shown on the discarded tile but can never go over six in any of the three abilities. The player’s turn is over; they cannot move when resting.
Whenever a player moves through a trap, or when they pay a price of three counters when going through a door, they may take one of the two idols – even from another player. They must place one of the counters they used on the half of the tile that matches the OTHER idol. As long as a player has an idol, they may use one of the skill counters on the matching tile whenever they go through a door or trap.
After moving, a player must check to see if there is a row that is three rows behind him. If such a row exists, it is immediately destroyed. Any players who happen to be there are killed and become ghosts, flipping their tile over to the ghost side. After the first three crumbles occur (which are counted using the Krumble counters), the temple starts collapsing. Crumbles must still be checked, but players also must roll a die after every turn, whether they move or not. On a roll of “1” (possibly “2” and “3”, depending on the number of players), the back row of the temple collapses.
Once the temple starts collapsing, players are allowed to place their exit tiles. When a player is in an exit tile, they may move from that spot to the car on their turn and are effectively finished. For the remainder of the game, on their turn, they simply pick one of their stats and roll a die. If they roll HIGHER than the amount they currently have, they may add one counter of that type to their card (maximum is still six of each type). Ghosts move around and attempt to suck ability counters from living explorers and cannot lay tiles or cause the temple to collapse.
After all players have taken the turn, the last player hands their token to the player on their right and takes another turn, allowing the last player to go twice in a row.
As soon as all explorers are dead and/or have reached the car, the game is over. The player, living or dead, with the highest total of ability tokens is the winner. In case of ties, living players beat ghosts, and the first player to the car breaks ties.
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: As with all Tenki games, the components are really top notch. I especially enjoyed the ability tokens. Instead of different colored cubes, the blue ones were cylinders, and the yellow ones were triangular prisms – making for a visual treat, and helping easily differentiate between them. The artwork is fantastic, especially the “ghost” side of each explorer’s card. The tiles are thick and fit together to make a thematic looking temple, and the trap pictures could easily come from many an adventure movie. Everything fits snugly in a custom plastic insert in a great looking, sturdy box.
2.) Rules: The rulebook is made up of several languages, with seven of the full-color pages devoted to English. There were spots that I could tell the rules had been translated, but for the most part everything was clear, and there were many examples and illustrations. When teaching the game, I often have to simply show how the game works; it’s easier than explaining it. The game is simple, but easier to see than hear. Fortunately, the theme works well in this regard, and it makes perfect sense what everyone is doing.
3.) Theme: As an abstract game, I would have no interest in Krumble, but I can say with certainty that this is no “pasted on” theme, but rather one in which the theme drives the game. Shouting slogans from various adventure shows and pleading for the temple to collapse on one’s opponents is a good sign, and it happens a lot during the game. The different colored blocks are a bit abstract, but the traps help flesh them out a bit.
4.) Time and Players: A game usually lasts just about thirty minutes, and that’s with six players! I find that the game is more enjoyable with more players, although a player is much more apt to become a ghost with a larger group. Turns are fairly quick and easy – there are decisions to make, but it’s usually about whether a player should stay or run.
5.) Strategy: As I just stated, there’s really not a lot of thought that goes in the game. Run fast, and only stop to rest when necessary. The biggest decision, for most players, will be when to actually exit the temple. Once you leave, it’s difficult to increase your stats – you simply roll the die and hope. At the same time, players will eventually push all their stats to six while waiting in the card, so players fooling around in the temple have to keep an eye on that, while also making sure they don’t get crushed while waiting. I have seen a few games in which one player managed to increase all their stats to six (using the idols effectively, etc.), and escape moments before the temple collapses – but I’ve seen just as often these greedy players turn into ghosts. I haven’t yet encountered a game where everyone has turned into ghosts, but we did play one in which only one player survived.
6.) Elimination and Fun Factor: Becoming a ghost is a crippling blow, as it basically takes a player out of the running (I have yet to see one win). However, it’s still possible for the ghost to win, so a player doesn’t have to quit when they are killed. Besides, it’s fun, both mechanically and in a thematic way, to go around and annoy the other players as they head for the exit. Being alive is fun, but a ghost is just as enjoyable – there’s not elimination. Stealing the idol from an opponent is also entertaining; because more often than not, a player with the idol will win, being able to fly through the dungeon much more quickly.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this game, mostly for its theme, but also because it was very lighthearted and fun. Teenagers enjoy the idea of becoming ghosts and tormenting their opponents, and who can resist the joy of being the person to trigger the wall collapse on their friends? I’m not sure that the winner of the game is the person with the best strategy, or the person who made the wisest moves. In fact, players can gang up on a person in a way, causing them to have a more difficult time – or even causing them to die. But since a win as a ghost is possible, no one is ever out; and it gives the player an added enjoyment of bugging the other players. Krumble is all about fun and is a breath of fresh air in a game market saturated with tired themes.
“Real men play board games”